Managing social anxiety disorder at work

Managing social anxiety disorder at work

People with social anxiety may face specific problems in the workplace, such as the inability to network effectively, failure to develop relationships with coworkers, fear of attending business social events, lack of self-confidence, and difficulty speaking up in meetings.

There is no limit to the achievement of shy people when shyness is properly managed. While it is not the same as social anxiety, ideas that help shy people adapt can also be useful for managing social anxiety in the workplace.

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Communication

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The inability to network and build work relationships will make it more difficult to advance at work.

To become more comfortable with coworkers, continually try to expand your comfort zone. Engage in small talk with people you see during the day in the lunchroom, the elevator, or at the water cooler. Greet people with general comments or compliments. Start short conversations. It's less important to say the right thing and more important to show up and be present.

If you live with a social anxiety disorder, you might agonise asking a question about your work or clarifying an issue.

  • See if you can make an appointment. Practice what you will say so your ideas are clear.
  • If you still find it hard, communicate through email. Always prepare a list of points when you go into a meeting.
  • Gradually work up to ask harder questions. Start with the least anxiety-provoking question, then work your way up to harder topics.
  • Job interviews. Going on a job interview may be challenging. Proper preparation with mock interviews and engaging in deep breathing practices may help to calm yourself.
  • Job duties that include presentations or cold calling clients can be managed with social skills training, reading self-help books, or groups such as Toastmasters.
  • You probably show up late for meetings so that you don't have to engage in small talk. Instead, try to arrive early for meetings so that you can meet people as they arrive.
  • Remember that others may also feel uncomfortable about speaking up. They are also nervous about voicing their opinion. They will be relieved if you speak up first.
  • Examine the thoughts you have while in a meeting. Ask if the thoughts are helpful and realistic.

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RELATED IDEAS

Introversion and social anxiety are separate

Introversion is how you’re wired, whereas social anxiety is something that is holding you back due to fear instead of a choice you're making.

Non-anxious introverts are very happy to leave a party early, but people with social anxiety often leave because they feel so worried and want relief.

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IDEAS

Focus on Others

The biggest barrier shy people have to overcome is that they have this tremendous sense of self-focus. Popular people focus on others instead of obsessing about themselves.

Popular people are genuinely interested in other people, actively learn more about them, and look for connections. 

  • Let your body do the talking. Body language and facial expressions can be just as important as your words. Your posture is key. 
  • Be mindful of your tone of voice. You make others feel at ease if your voice is calm and/or friendly. 
  • Be a good listener. How you listen is just as important as what you say. Leave any distractions alone and maintain eye contact from time to time. 
  • Take a reality check. If you find your mind going to the opposite of confident thinking, stop and check the facts. 
  • Smile. Smiling generally lightens your mood and makes other people respond more positively to you. 

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